26 Pairs of Eyes: In Performance

“Were you born under the sign of the fish, thimble or acorn, padlock, pin or coin?”

Spoken word artists Jacob Sam-La Rose and Toni Stuart, perform ‘Chorus’, a response to 26 Pairs of Eyes, in the Museum’s Court Room.

This display paired 26 writers, including former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, with 26 objects from the Foundling Museum’s Collection, who responded with a new piece of writing.

Each piece was created as a sestude: a text of exactly 62 words long. Displayed throughout the Museum, alongside the objects that inspired them, they form a trail of discovery, bringing fresh perspectives to familiar objects and lesser-known items into the spotlight.

Some writers imagined histories for objects whose stories have been lost: an unknown matron’s mallet, a padlock left as a Token. Others shed new light on highlights from our Collection: Hogarth’s The March of the Guards to Finchley, the rococo splendour of the Court Room and George Frideric Handel’s last Will and Testament.

By weaving 26 works into one final piece, performance poets Jacob Sam-La Rose and Toni Stuart create a narrative of the Foundling Hospital that would not be found in history books, but is as lively and various as the thousands of children brought to its doors.